Friday, June 5, 2015

Summer + Writing = Anxiety

It's officially summer break which means all three of my little devils munchkins are home all day, every day. It's alright, people, really, it's not as terrifying as it sounds. Just take a deep breath and read on.

As most of you know, this September I'm planning on releasing my first full length novel, What Not to Do When You're Falling in love. Which means I can't take the summer off to spend each excruciating sweet moment with my pumpkins.

All you moms out there, just settle down for a minute. I know the thought of working from home while your kids destroy everything you hold dear sounds painful. It actually is, but that doesn't mean your kids can't have a little fun along the way.

Like every other mom on the internet, I don't want my kids to spend their summer days in front of the TV frying their brains, so I've come up with a solution that allows my kids to have a great summer, and me to get some work done.

I present to you:

This is the part where I write a disclaimer saying I don't know everything. Also, each family is different and these tips won't work for all. They can be modified, however.

These tips come in two parts.

I've assigned activities to each day, so my kids know what to expect during the week. We live in south Texas, so it's really hot. Which is why most of these things are inside.

Monday: Library Day. We get all the books we want and the kids get to be out of the house to play.

Wednesday: Water Day. This is the day my kids can play in the wading pool in the backyard or get the sprinkler out. Sometimes we'll also go to the pool or a splash pad. This is mostly so I don't have to deal with swimsuits every day this summer.

Friday: Craft Day. This is the day my kids are allowed to get out the finger paints, and the shaving cream, and the glitter glue. I'm not stifling their creativity and I don't have a giant mess to clean up every day.

Tuesday & Thursday: Mommy's writing days. I've also cleverly called these days pajama days. My kids are allowed to stay in PJ's and I usually make them a breakfast for lunch. It's fun, and I get to WORK. They know I will be writing these days, so it's expected.

Now, just having these things assigned doesn't mean my kids won't still beg to watch TV all day. So here's part two:

Before my kids are allowed any screen time (or even before they're allowed to do their activities), they must have the following completed.

1. A clean room with their beds made.

2. Dressed with hair done and teeth brushed.

3. 20 minutes of reading.

4. 20 minutes of math games/ problems.

I could do all of these things in a hour, but it usually takes my kids a good three hours because they play in-between. I'm not complaining.

So there you have it. That's my plan for summer. It won't all go perfectly, but at least I have a starting point. Happy summer!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A List of Irrational Thoughts and a Book Review

Trust me. The following post is not a joke. It's 100% real.
March was a hard month for me. Really, really hard. Most of March included irrational thoughts such as:

1. I hate writing. I hate reading about writing. I hate thinking about style, and process, and eventual publishing. HATE.

2. I started writing almost four years ago, and I'm pretty much in the same position I started in.

3. I should just quit. Nothing I do is ever going to be good enough, or worth it in the end.

4. Time to cancel my flight to Utah in May. No point in going to a writer's conference when I'm quitting.

5. Everything I have ever written is trash. I'm sorry to anyone who has look upon my words, because they're all terrible.

So yeah...I'm still not 100% over it, but I'm not completely giving up either. Although, I haven't worked on anything in almost three weeks. As you can imagine, this troubled time has made it hard to read as well. Here's the one book I read in March:

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
This book. Gah, this lovely, lovely book. Honestly, this book is so well written nothing should've kept me away from the turning the pages. I usually avoid the second book in a series because they're not that great. That is not true for this book. I love it.

The storyline is genius as well. The way she brought together two seemingly separate characters and tied their stories up. Just... phenomenal. Not to mention how kick-a the girls are in this book. Loved everything about it. I'd highly recommend this series!

That's it for now. I hope everyone had a better March than I did!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

February Mini Reviews

This post is late, but it's here! I didn't quiet reach my goal last month, but I did read, which is the whole point of the challenge.

Woven by David Power's King and Micheal Jensen
David was the very first blogger friend I had the opportunity to meet in person. That was three and half years ago. He told me his book was called Woven, and that it was about a ghost that could be stitched back to life with a magic needle. Naturally, that was the coolest thing I had ever heard of, and I was dying to read it.
But I had to wait. I almost got read to read it a year and a half ago...then they switched publishers in series of FORTUNATE events. Anyway, the book was everything I expected it to be and more. I loved the world Michael and David created, and I haven't read a High Fantasy in a long time. It was fantastic!

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
When I was at the bookstore seeing if I could get my hands on Woven early, I decided to pick up a
few books, and this was the first one I read. Mostly, I wanted to read it because it's a bestseller, and therefore I can learn from it. I also LOVED Fangirl. I love that book so hard. But this one...I liked Fangirl more, sorry! This was good. The characters were interesting, and I liked their relationship, but, I dunno. Fangirl is closer to my heart, I guess. Even if this book did have a beautiful Korean boy in it.

*FYI* This book contains a lot of swearing.

Silent Beauty by Krista McLaughlin
Okay, I'm cheating a little on this one. The book isn't out, so don't bother looking for it. I just happened to have the privilege of reading this book, as a beta reader, again. The story is about a mostly-deaf girl and the cute nerd she falls in love with.
I'm certain Krista will find success with this book in the future, because the premise is just too cute. I love it.
(and I made this cover, BTW)

Monday, February 2, 2015

January Mini-reviews

Fifty books in twenty-fifteen starts now! I only read two books in January, but I started my challenge late. Both these titles were fantastic, which gives me so much hope for an incredible year ahead. Let's get to it, shall we?

Remake, Ilima Todd
Let me just say, as an author, I wouldn't touch this subject with a ten foot pole. A lot of questions are asked through this story. What is choice? What is gender? What defines a gender? What defines a person? Does the way we look have an influence on our choices?
Ilima took all these issues head on, and tackled them beautifully. More than just asking these important questions, Ilima tells a deeply personal story about girl who doesn't really know where she fits in her world, and has no idea what choices she wants to make.
All the ideas presented in this novel are still floating around my head. I never once felt like I was being told how to think. Rather, I felt like the character was simply learning from the life that was handed to her.
I still have a lot of questions, mostly about the boy Nine chooses to be with, but I suppose I'll just have to wait for the next book to get my answers. I highly recommend this book for teens.

                                                                           The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, Shallee McAruthur

From the moment I heard the premise of this book, my interest was peaked. I couldn't wait for it to be published and for me to be able to read it.
I mean, not only does Genesis remember EVERYTHING, but she wears her memories like jewelry. Right from the beginning, when a few memories are stolen, I was hooked.
Shallee is a masterful writer with an amazing sense of characterization. My only complaint is the overwhelming amount of technology (not a bad thing) but I found myself having a hard time keeping a few gadgets straight, and remembering how everything worked. Honestly, I think it was more my fault because I simply forgot, it didn't detract too much from the story.
And the ending...what an amazing ending. It was so powerful, I cried. Genesis and Kalan have carved a special place in my heart. I love them dearly <3 

 Have you read these books? What was your favorite book in January?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Stealing the Stars is Drafted! Again!

Honestly, I don't know what possessed me to do it.

Three years ago I wrote a book poorly about a girl who could use natural disasters in an X-men kinda way. I named it Stealing the Stars, edited part of the first chapter, then gave up on it. I think the original word count was around 40K. It had all kinds of plot twists that didn't make sense, and it ended very abruptly. I'm pretty sure I even ended it in the middle of a sentence. Kidding.

I wrote some other books after that one. Most notably, Existence. Which was also poorly written. And What Not to Do When You're Falling in Love. I queried both books with marginal success--meaning I received small press offers--which I ended up not taking. At the time it felt like the world was ending to turn down those contracts, but I'm glad I did. I wasn't ready yet.

In between those two books, I decided to write Stealing the Stars again. The book about the girl with the natural disaster thing. Once more, it didn't work, and I ended scrapping it. 

I published an Anthology, and wrote two more books--The Definition of Awkward and The Home Ec. Boys. Which I also did nothing with.

Three more times--amidst the madness--I tried to write Stealing the Stars. Three more times, I failed.

Then came 2014.

I didn't give up writing. I never once gave up hope that I would be a published author. I started a few books with high hopes, but didn't finish. I did, however, write four fanfictions that averaged about 30K, each.

It was getting close to the end of the year and I started to panic. In 2013 I wrote two books and published an Anthology! I felt like there was something wrong with me. I couldn't even get ideas. My writing career was over, or so I thought.

But slowly, slowly, my girl with the powers over natural disasters came back to me. I decided to ditch the orignal plot completely because obviously that wasn't working out, and start fresh. New names, new ideas, new everything. Except my girl, and the boy she would fall in love with.

It took some brainstorming, but I realized one of the problems before was that I was trying to tell the boy, Kai Andrew's, perspective without actually changing point of views. I had never tried to switch between character POV's and I was hesitant. Because that was hard. And it was.

I wanted to quit this book, again. I don't know why it always called to me, begging to be written, but it did. Every other idea flew out of my head until this book stepped up and said, "I'm still here, write me!"

40K in, the plot was not heading the right direction. I started re-reading, only to find Andrew's voice was still not heard. He needed to be written in 3rd person past tense, and my girl was going to stay in 1st person present tense.

Again. I didn't want to do it. Because it's hard.

But I did anyway.

After my re-read, I deleted ten thousand words. That was almost a months worth of labor on the book that did, yet did not, want to be written. I pushed forward despite this.

The words still came slow. Each day I'd spend an hour on 300 words. It was painstaking.

One Saturday morning I woke up early, ready to tackle this book once and for all. I wrote two-thousand words. Finally, I was finding my groove again!

The very same day, my computer died. Every last word I had written that morning was lost.

Quitting. Quitting sounded sooo good. Quitting would be easy, but quitting also meant I wasn't going anywhere.

300 words a day. One hour of complete torture--to the brink of madness. But I didn't stop. I kept trying every day and, eventually, the words flowed.

For two months I'd been saying I was going to finish this book and, dangit, I wanted to.

Last week, I had a final breakthrough. Cassie Mae (a.k.a. my idol) shared this blog post with me. I skimmed over the first part of it, and decided to give it a try. I wrote 15K in three day.

Stealing the Stars, the book that had been so loved and never brought to pass was finally complete. And, yes, I will query it. After a year of drought, I'm ready. Never have I been so excited to finish something.

When this book is all pretty edited, I'm going to start on the next one in series. And let me tell you. I can't wait. Seriously.

Monday, January 19, 2015

2015 Book Challenge

I know. It's a tad late to hop on the book challenge wagon, but last year I tried to do one and failed miserably. I think I only read fifteen books last year. That's just not acceptable for an author, so I'm going to step up my game.

My twenty-fifteen goal is fifty books. Two years ago, I completed that challenge by blogging mini-reviews every month.  So what guess what? My mini-reviews are making a comeback for twenty-fifteen!

To some of you, fifty books isn't a lot, but I don't read that fast, and I have a side obsession Kdramas which takes up a lot of my time. However, with the right books, I'll be able to do it.

Wish me luck for the year!  What are you reading?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

FREE Cover Design

Every writer daydreams about the perfect cover. The one that speaks to the audience and yells, "BUY ME!" Well, folks, I'd like to make that cover for you.

For the past year or so, I've been interested in cover design. I've made quite a few poor attempts at an amazing cover, but I have yet to make a home run.

What I feel like I lack---more than anything---is experience. I've daydreamed plenty of my own covers, but I have yet to work with an author one-on-one and think outside of myself. This is where you, dear reader, come in.

I'm giving away a FREE cover design, or re-design.

This is not going to be a drawing. This is going to be about whoever is interested in working with me as a serious cover designer. I want to take someone's vision, bring it to life, and tweek it until they find it satisfactory.

Whomever accepts my offer is under no obligation to use the cover I create. It's about me gaining experience in a field I'd like to capitalize on, someday. Just like writing, I want to make sure I'm a pro first.

Here's a sampling of covers I've made, to give interested takers an idea of what I'm best at.

 If you're interested, or know of an interested party, please leave a comment below. And spread the word. I'd be really sad if I didn't get to do any cover designs. Thank you!!